“Annual Employee Evaluations” – Three words that make most employees shudder, call in sick, or steel themselves for the ‘constructive criticism’ meeting. Having participated in staff evaluations for over 20 years, and being the co-creator of our firm’s current evaluation and employee development program, I wanted to share what we have found that works for both the employees, as well as the owners.
Stay Current
From kudos to a written performance evaluation, employees want and need current feedback. It gives them the opportunity to learn, gain confidence, and better understand expectations. Our policy says an employee can ask for an evaluation, written or verbal, on any size project. The key words here are “ask for an evaluation”. This empowers the employees to make it happen; of course, managers and owners can always initiate it, but we all know where on the priority ladder this usually ends up. We have a rule that we adhere to quite strictly: If there is a performance issue, and it has not been addressed personally, it cannot be brought to the table for discussions. This alone has streamlined our annual Partner/Manager meetings on raises and promotions, and employees appreciate that a past unaddressed issue or concern does not become the focus in the present.
Meet With Your Employees
Another Senior Manager and I meet with each employee two times a year: mid-year is a check-in on how the first six months have gone; end of year is more detailed and encompasses individual goals and plans for personal development and achievement. Both meetings are documented by the employee, then reviewed and put in their respective personnel files.
Foster Relationships – Everyday
Two formal meetings a year does not guarantee the level of communication needed for successful evaluations. Time and efforts need to be made by those in charge of personnel to create strong relationships that allow for needed honest and frank exchanges.
What Do You Want?
Simple question, seldom asked. It can open doors to creative thinking and discussions, and it personalizes everything back to the employee.
Listen, Listen & Listen
People want to be heard, they want to feel understood and acknowledged; make evaluations an opportunity to better understand how your employees can be their best and what you can offer for them to achieve their personal success.   
Written by Steve Miksis, LinkedIn Profile